Travel Blog by Jen (March 2008)

On our third day in Hong Kong, we decided to hop on a ferry to cross over to Macau for a day trip. Macau has seen big new developments in recent times. Ultra-grand hotels and casinos are being built left and right, adding a modern touch to the Old Macau, renowned for its World Heritage sites. It would be interesting to see Macau if only for a day.

We bought our ferry tickets at the Macau Ferry Terminal on the 2nd level of Royal Pacific Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. It was easy as there were several operators that sell tickets and there were departures every minutes. A one-way ticket costs HKD148 (USD 19) for the 1-hour ride.

One needs to go through immigration upon arrival in Macau so remember to bring your passport. At the arrivals hall, many tour guides tout their services. You can negotiate the price especially if you belong to a large group. Since we had limited time, we decided to tour the city ourselves. Free maps and information are available at the Macau Tourist Information Center at the arrivals hall. So armed with our handy map and loose HKD change, we took the bus and headed to the famous Senado Square.

The Senado Square is paved in the traditional Portuguese pavement -- with a wave-patterned mosaic of colored stones created by Portugese experts. The Senado Square is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the center of the former Portuguese colony of Macau and is bordered by equally prominent buildings such as the Leal Senado, the General Post Office and St. Dominic's Church. The pedestrian piazza was bustling with activity when we arrived as people make their way on foot to the Church of St. Dominic and the ruins of St. Paul.

St. Dominic's Church is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates back from the early 17th century. We went inside to view the altar but didn't go anymore to the museums on its 2nd and 3rd floors.

A short uphill walk led us to the Ruins of St. Paul. It is essentially just a facade of what was once a Portuguese Cathedral. This and its grand staircase are all that remains. The church was built in 1602 by the Jesuits and was destroyed by a fire in 1835.

The back side of the church was converted into a museum showcasing a crypt, exhibits of paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects.

Just beside the ruins is Fortaleza do Monte ("Mount Fortress"). No easy climb up here but the park at the top of the fort has a panoramic view of the city. This was also built by the Jesuits and served as a military center of the former Portuguese colony. It is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On your way to and from the ruins, don't miss the opportunity to sample the delicious egg tarts!

From Senado Square, we took a cab to the newly built Venetian Macau. Like its sister resort, The Venetian in Las Vegas, the Venetian Macau is grand, luxurious and offers the same gondola rides and circus acts in "St. Mark's Square."

The Venetian Macau offers free shuttle service back to the ferry terminal. This was our last stop for the day. I think Macau requires its own 4-day vacation next time. We only had a glimpse of this place. I know there are so much more things to see and do! Bungee next time?

(Pictures by Jen de Guzman and Charisse Yap)